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Your Tewksbury Today

Confessions Of A Divorced Dad: To Coach Or Not To Coach, That Is The Question

Sep 07, 2014 06:47PM ● By Bill Gilman
As I've mentioned in past columns, being an active supporter of your children's activities is an awesome way for you to spend extra time with them and to show them you care about what matters to them.
Active participation could mean simply attending practices and games or providing rides to and from rehearsals or meetings. Or, if you were so inclined, it could mean volunteering as a coach or instructor.
Coaching/teaching your child can be a true bonding experience. Imagine celebrating a championship or a milestone achievement together. 
Or it could be a recipe for years of therapy ... for both of you.
Before you decide you want to coach your child's youth sports team, you need to ask yourself some key questions.

1. Are you qualified? -- You might think this goes without saying. Unfortunately, it doesn't. Make sure you have at least a working knowledge of the sport or activity. You don't have to be an expert but you do want to be able to actually teach the kids on the team some basic skills.
2. Do you have to win at everything? -- Not "Do you like to win?" We all like to win. But "Do you HAVE to win at everything?" Do you have to win so badly that you will cheat at Candyland ... against your 5-year-old? You get the idea.
3. Are you OK with being responsible for children crying? Kids cry. Kids who play youth sports cry. Boys and girls. It could be because you replaced them during a game. It could be because they got injured. It could be because the team lost. And it could be because you corrected a mistake they made. If you can't stomach this, you probably shouldn't coach ... or be a parent.
4. Are you OK with your child hating you from time to time? Don't be deluded. There are times when every child has feelings of ill-will toward their coach for one reason or another. This will be true even if the coach is his or her parent. In some cases, especially so.
5. Are you OK with other parents hating you from time to time? Don't be deluded. There are times when every parent has feelings of ill-will toward their child's coach for one reason or another. This will be true even if the coach is his or her spouse or ex-spouse. In some cases, especially so.
6. Is Bobby Knight your role model? Yeah, see, here's the thing. Sports is not life. It may be, in some ways, a metaphor for life, but it isn't life and death. I'll be honest, I used to think that screaming and hollering was the best way to coach. I believed that it helped generate intensity and passion in my players and brought out the best in them.
I was wrong.
All it does is cause the players to tune you out. You can, and should, try to inspire your players and help them achieve their full potential. But ranting and raving isn't the way to do it. Not only that, it shows a disrespect for the game and sets a bad example.

So there you have it. six simple questions. If you answered "Yes" to question 6 or to at least two of the other questions, you might want to think long and hard before volunteering to coach.
Remember, you can show support and encouragement from the bleachers as well.
Or you can embarrass them to death.
But that's another column.

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